Exhibition review; Wolfgang Tillmans 2017

@Tate Modern feb-11 June 2017.

Over all this exhibition was hard to understand, so it should as its grappling with a view of the complicated world we live in today. You needed a lot of time to visit all the tables and read the magazine articles, Facebook feeds, pages from books and the academic notes per room. My favourite room was the music installation. Along a soft grey fabric covered corridor was a light room dedicated to listening to music and looking at all the systems that project that music such as speakers an equalizers.  Its called the ‘playback room’ and was designed for listening to recorded music. He defines the difference or shows the industries or the markets pretentious standards given to recorded music and how we offer space to live music but none to appreciate recorded music. He has given prominence within the museum setting to studio computer created music. I thought it was like sitting in a friends bedroom, when I was in my twenties. This space brought back memories of lounging around friends houses while they practice mixing records before going out to DJ at a club that night. All there equipment was top of the range so I didn’t appreciate the quality of the sound then or now.

He shows his experience of working with different mediums and the size of the photos jump around the wall as some are very large and others are taped on the wall eye level or bulldog clipped and located above a door. I would have suggested it being erratic but I understand this is part of the concept towards understanding the exhibition as a whole and not as individual images. This show is a personal response to the present moment and his role as an artist is to engage the viewer with themes of community, sociability, empathy and vulnerability. He explains this with examining the cultures of new technologies, the development of digital cameras and the effects of an online community.

Things that I learnt……

  • Tillmans relationship with his studio is different to a painters studio, or is it. I began to question what the studio space is and how that space could be used differently in the practice of painting. In the images we see a table , computer, printer and things stuck to the walls. He uses his studio as a place to plan exhibitions in architectural models, collects materials and generates ideas. This has become a subject and an  image for this exhibition which layers upon the connections of the exhibition being about individual images but also about the connections made between all the images as a whole. I learnt to re-evaluate my studio space and stop thinking about it as a work space and re brand it as a experimental laboratory.
  • ‘clc 800, dismantles 2011’ was interesting as its reminiscent of the subjects covered at the ‘entangled’ exhibition ( Margate contemporary spring exhibition) where we see an image of his 3 dimensional stages scenarios rather than the actually display. He says his work is ‘translating the three dimensional world into two dimensional pictures’ (Catalogue notes 2017) I like this concept of the artist only sharing with us the image of the sculpture and not the real sculpture, its relates to the essay by Jean Baudrillard ‘Simulation of the simulacrum’. The idea that nothing is real any more, its just a simulation.
  • His deliberate juxtapositions of his work in the ‘truth study 2005’ are suggesting an influence from the presentation of media where a distressing story about chemical warfare killing children can be positioned next to an advertisement for baby products from ‘mother care’ for example. This discourse leads to the gaps of knowledge and causes room for doubt which is where we are now with the issue of fake news and censoring by political parties. This study focuses on how the constructions of truth affect our psychological and physiological levels.
  • He works abstractly as well as documentarian and the idea where he works without a camera but creates within the dark room was something that I could do with my painting practice. Stop working with the paint, just see what the reaction is to the paint in different atmospheres , for example working with different mediums, materials, surfaces, using a hair dryer to interact with the paint and using the substance eccentrically.
  • By taping the photos to the walls you question why he didn’t frame everything and why some are large prints are left dangling in a fragile fashion. He is drawing our attention to the edges encouraging the viewer to interact with the photograph as an object rather than an image. You are always feeling like you are being taken away from the real exhibition and are only seeing the thought process of an exhibition that could have been. Its all disconcerting and disconnected from the normality of a gallery show, Like our society , we are within one but are isolated from one simultaneously. Is the whole exhibition actually an installation referring to Schrödinger cat?

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